Stephen’s Feast: Jean Richardson

Stephen could hear impatient voices calling his name as he crouched in his hiding place. The others would never find him here, he thought proudly.
He would show them he was just as clever as they were – as the youngest and smallest page in the palace he was always being teased.

Stephens FeastStephen’s Feast is a retelling of the story of Good King Wenceslas through the eyes of the page who accompanies him. Stephen is the youngest and most trampled-upon page in the palace. It’s his birthday and the feast day of the saint he was named after, but all he wants is to keep out of the way of the older pages and the angry chamberlain. To his surprise he called out of hiding by the king himself!Stephens Feast

The story follows the narrative of the Christmas carol very closely and explores themes of generosity and care for the weak, displayed both through the palace’s care of the poorer family, and Wenceslas’ care for his page in the snow. However, the story goes further than the carol, it dives deeper into the young page’s emotions, thoughts and motivations and explores other issues that young children face. Stephen’s story addresses bullying, sharing, feelings of insecurity and the importance of understanding those who are different. It’s a story that gently reminds the reader that identity is not found in possessions or status.

Alongside the story are beautiful illustrations by Alice Englander. It’s definitely worth adding to your Christmas library – if you can find a copy. It’s out of print but second hand copies are pretty easy to find.Stephens Feast

Stephens FeastStephen’s Feast
Jean Richardson,
Illus. Alice Englander,
J.M. Dent and Sons, London, 1991